Book Review: These Shallow Graves

Thank you to the Hot Key Books team at NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy to review. These Shallow Graves was so good that I just had to pick up a physical copy for myself!

Josephine Montfort is from one of New York’s oldest, most respected, and wealthiest families. Like most well-off girls of the era her future looks set—after a finishing school education, she will be favourably married off to a handsome wealthy gentleman. But Jo wants a more meaningful and exciting life: she wants to be an investigative journalist like her heroine Nellie Bly.

But when Jo’s father dies after an alleged accident, she begins to investigate his death with the help of a young reporter, Eddie Gallagher. It quickly becomes clear he was murdered, and in their race against time to discover the culprit and his motive, Jo and Eddie find themselves not only battling dark characters of the violent and gritty streets of New York, but also their growing feelings for each other.


“When she saw him hurrying toward her, a knight in a rumpled tweed jacket, she thought, No matter what happens to me in the coming days, no matter how bad this all gets, I have been so lucky to know him”

I can’t believe how incredible These Shallow Graves is. It went above and beyond in exceeding my expectations and is a strong contender for my favourite book this year.

Accompanied by young journalist Eddie Gallagher, we follow Josephine on an action-packed quest to find out who killed her father. We’re instantly immersed in this world of ballgowns and bloody murder and I loved every second of it.

Historical novels are slowly becoming my favourite genre to read. There’s something I find so captivating about the fast-paced narrative, the old-fashioned settings and of course, the dashing male characters. These Shallow Graves ticked all the correct boxes, but perhaps what pleasantly surprised me the most was that this wasn’t a novel driven solely on romance. Hallelujah, rejoice! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adored Josephine and Eddie to the moon and back and the banter between the two of them was hilarious fun, but thankfully, their relationship was secondary to the plot of finding out who murdered Charles Monfort.

This was such an enjoyable read. Josephine, whilst being a strong-willed heroine, is a believable character fueled by her admiration to be like trailblazing reporter Nellie Bly. As someone who is a budding journalist myself, Jo immediately became someone I could easily root for and made her way onto my list of favourite female fictional characters. In fact, there was badass females aplenty in These Shallow Graves, and do you want to know the best part about that? They were friends! They looked out for each other. There wasn’t any cattiness and competition, they protected one another. Fay and Jo’s friendship really tugged on my heartstrings.

Donnelly’s writing was compelling, humorous and moving. This piece of YA historical fiction was impeccable! I’m still in awe of how Donnelly managed to cram a love story, a badass friendship, a gripping murder mystery and dialogue that highlighted male hubris in that period of time all into one novel.

These Shallow Graves is a novel that every young girl, or boy, should read. Not only is it quick and entertaining, but I think that there’s a message that the reader can take away from it. I want people to read about this ambitious heroine who, despite constant rebuffs from those around her, is desperate to achieve her dreams. Josephine Monfort seizes every opportunity in front of her and she is a brilliant protagonist for people to look up to.

Jennifer Donnelly’s These Shallow Graves is a thought-provoking, fantastic novel. It’s a breath of fresh air in the YA book market. I will without a doubt be checking out Donnelly’s other work, but I would love for there to be a second book. I’m satisfied with the way things ended. There were so many twists and turns that kept me on my toes and the revelation to the whodunnit mystery had me gobsmacked. To be honest, the reason why I’d like a sequel is because I just want more Josephine and Eddie in my life!



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